Chinese juniper is a durable, adaptable evergreen tree or shrub that can bring year-round color, structure and screening to a dry, alkaline or windy site. Although the species is an erect, conical tree up to 60 feet high and 20 feet wide, a wide variety of cultivated varieties are available for garden and landscape use that range from trees to shrubs down to ground covers. The foliage of scale-like needles is attractive but prickly. In late summer and fall, many junipers have blue-green berry-like fruits, actually modified cones, that attract birds. Junipers are widely used in bonsai, and are rugged and useful landscape plants. Because they are quite salt-tolerant, they can be used near roads, driveways and sidewalks.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
- Ground cover,
- Evergreen (foliage year-round)
- Residential and parks
- Mixed border,
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet),
- Medium tree (25-40 feet),
- Small tree (15-25 feet),
- Compact tree (10-15 feet),
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 feet),
- Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Dry soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Showy fruit
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Early spring,
- Mid spring,
- Late spring,
- Early summer,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
- Game birds,
- Game mammals,
- Small mammals,
Size and Form
Chinese juniper has many cultivars and a wide variety of sizes and shapes. It can range from a tall tree growing 40 feet high or more. It can be as small as a ground cover (18 inhes to 2 feet high)
Tree & Plant Care
Needs full sun.
Prefers a well-drained, gravelly site; pH adaptable (to soils from acid to alkaline).
Tolerates dry soil once established.
Disease, pests and problems
Needle blights in wet springs can be a problem; can be susceptible to cedar apple rust.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Resistant to animal browsing, including deer.
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to Asia.
Bark color and texture
Old bark is ridged and furrowed.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Two types of needle: adult or juvenile (scale and awl).
Adult needles are in opposite pairs along branches, very short and blunt, needle is convex.
Juvenile needles are awl shaped, arranged in whorls of 3 or opposite pairs, pointed, also convex.
Needle color is green to either blue-green or gray-green.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Inconspicuous; dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants).
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Green berry-like fruit (actually cones) that turn blue-gray by fall.
Cultivars and their differences
Ames Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Ames'): Broad pyramidal shrub, 8 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Steel-blue young needles turn green when mature. Female cultivar produces silver-blue berries.
Blue Point Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point'): Pyramidal shape; 12 feet high and 8 feet wide; densely branched.
Fairview Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Fairview'): Narrow, pyramidal small tree, 10 to 15 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. Bright green foliage and silver-blue, berry-like globular cones. Older stems have thin exfoliating bark.
Gold Lace Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Gold Lace'): Compact form with golden foliage; 3 to 4 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide.
Hetz columnar Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Hetzii Columnaris'): Upright, pyramidal form; 10 to 15 feet high and 5 feet wide.
Iowa Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Iowa'): Upright pyramidal small tree, 8 to 10 feet high and 10 feet wide. Dense, spire-like form opens with age. Blue-green foliage turns green with age. Large blue fruit.
Kallay's Compact Pfitzer Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Pfitzeriana Kallay'): Low, flat-topped, spreading shrub, 2 to 3 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. Resistant to most pests (including deer) and to cedar rust and juniper twig-blight diseases. Bagworm can be a problem. Female plants produce berry-shaped cones, but nurseries often do not sell these shrubs with the gender known.
Keteleer Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Keteleeri'): A broadly pyramidal small tree, 15 to 20 feet high and wide. Disease resistant. Light to medium green foliage. Large fruit.
Mountbatten Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Mountbatten'): Narrow pyramidal tree, 15 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide. Dense grayish-green foliage. Large fruit. Excellent winter hardiness.
Perfecta Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Perfecta'): Upright, narrowly-pyramidal form; 15 to 18 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide.
Pfitzer Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Pfitzeriana'): Wide-spreading shrub, 5 to 7 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide. An old-fashioned juniper variety that is rarely sold but exists in many landscapes. angled branches, sage green foliage.
Sea Green Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Sea Green'): A compact spreading shrub, 4 to 6 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Branches are more upright than 'Pfitzerana', dark green foliage remains in winter. Susceptible to phomopsis blight.